HC Deb 14 February 1951 vol 484 cc397-9
48. Mr. A. R. W. Low

asked the Minister of Defence if he will make an up-to-date statement on operations in Korea.

Mr. Shinwell

I hope to make a statement shortly.

Mr. Low

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that he has not made a statement for more than two months, and that the public and the House particularly are extremely interested in what is going on; and that the only really authoritative statement can come from him and his Department?

Mr. Shinwell

I am conscious of that, but there have been many fluctuations in recent weeks. I shall do my best to furnish a statement next week.

Mr. Eden

Will the right hon. Gentleman bear in mind that, while we do not expect a detailed account of the fluctuations in the whole of the fighting, the House is interested in the part our British troops are playing and would like a statement about it at regular intervals?

Mr. Shinwell

I will bear in mind the right hon. Gentleman's wishes, and I will do my best.

Earl Winterton

Did not the right hon. Gentleman reply in exactly the terms as he has used now to a supplementary question which I put to him some time ago, when he said that he agreed with me and would make a statement at regular intervals? Why has he not done so?

Mr. Shinwell

If I said that, the noble Lord ought to be quite satisfied.

49. Major McCallum

asked the Minister of Defence how many British helicopters are in service with the British Forces contingent of the United Nations Armies in Korea.

Mr. Shinwell

None, Sir.

Major McCallum

Is it a fact that British units in Korea have to borrow American helicopters? Does the right hon. Gentleman think, in view of the years that British industry has been developing the helicopter, that it is not possible to provide British helicopters for British units serving overseas? Is he aware that it is the prejudice of Government Departments against the development of the helicopter which prevents this being done?

Mr. Shinwell

The Americans are responsible for evacuating casualties, and there has been no demand for British helicopters. As this matter is being properly handled I do not think that we need interfere.

54. Mr. J. Enoch Powell

asked the Minister of Defence whether he has considered the possibility of some reduction in the air mail rate for parcels below a certain weight addressed to persons serving with His Majesty's Forces in Korea.

55. Mr. Kenneth Thompson

asked the Minister of Defence if he is aware of the heavy charges levied for parcels sent by post to men serving with British units in the Far East; and if he will state his intentions regarding this matter.

Mr. Shinwell

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend, the Member for Coventry, South (Miss Burton), on 7th February.

Mr. Powell

While realising that it may be impossible to apply concessionary rates up to the full weight of 4 lb., may I ask the Minister to consider offering reduced rates for small weights such as 1 lb. or even ½ lb.?

Mr. Shinwell

I should prefer to wait until we see how the bulk parcel scheme works out. We are not quite ready to say what the final form will be, but I think we shall be able to do so very shortly.

Mr. Thompson

Is the Minister aware that the cost of parcels to men serving in Korea is the cause of probably the greatest amount of dissatisfaction among relatives in this country at present?

Mr. Shinwell

As the hon. Gentleman is aware, we did go a long way to meet some of the hardships. Now we are working on the new scheme, and if we find it satisfactory we shall put it into operation.

Miss Burton

If I were to put down a Question to my right hon. Friend for next Wednesday, would he be in a position to make a statement on the matter, because I think the country should know the excellent suggestion which has been put forward by the Government to help with the problem?

Mr. Shinwell

I cannot complain if my hon. Friend puts down a Question to me, but the scheme has been worked out by the War Office and perhaps the Question might be transferred to that Department.

Captain Ryder

Can the right hon. Gentleman say if these facilities are to be available for naval Forces as well as the others?

Mr. Shinwell

We shall seek to apply the scheme wherever it is necessary.